The Durban International Film Festival returns for its 33rd year to celebrate the magic of cinema in all its beauty and diversity. From the 19th to the 29th July, Durban will be illuminated by the glow of the silver screen, with over 290 screenings in 10 venues across the city. Alongside world-class cinema from across the globe, comprising 80 feature films, 40 documentaries and 45 short films, the festival offers a comprehensive workshop and seminar programme that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and skills by industry experts. DIFF is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), the National Film and Video Foundation, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism and a range of valued funders and partners.
Africa in the Spotlight
The blossoming African film industry will be centre stage at DIFF 2012. South African film in particular will be in the spotlight with 16 South African feature films (more than any previous year), as well as 19 documentaries, 27 short films, and 4 films in the Wavescape section –a total of 66 South African films – most of which will see their world premieres on Durban screens.
Opening the festival this year is the arresting Elelwani by Ntshavheni wa Luruli, starring Florence Masebe in a rich and atmospheric work that addresses the convergence of modernity and traditional culture. The closing film by director Wayne Thornley and the Triggerfish team is the delightful story of animal kingdom ubuntu in the pioneering 3D animation Adventures in Zambezia.
The South African programme will comprise the following: the harrowing and minimalist Accession (directed by Michael Rix); the street dance extravaganza, The African Cypher (directed by Bryan Little), while a woman tries to save a special herd in All the President’s Elephants (directed by Richard Slater Jones), and puppeteering pioneers are the subject of Bigger than Life (directed by Delphine de Blic). Blitz Patrollie (directed by Andrew Wessels, written by comedian Kagiso Lediga, directed by Andrew Wessels, starring David Kau, Joey Rasdien,) is an hysterical cop comedy, while Cassette: Who Do You Trust? (directed by John Barker) narrates the pursuit of musical fame. The identity-switch farce, Copposites (directed by Oliver Rodger and starring Rob van Vuuren and Siv Ngesi) will keep you laughing, while the soulful and melodious Cry of Love (directed by Faith Isiakpere,) stars Leleti Khumalo, Victor Masondo and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Dragon’s Feast 3D (directed by Damon and Craig Foster) daringly investigates the aquatic world of crocodiles. Fynbos (directed by Harry Patramanis) is a riveting psychological thriller, while fact and fiction blend into a nightmarish reality in Gangster Project (directed by Teboho Edkins). Gog’ Helen (directed by Adze Ugah and with a cast including Lillian Dube, Kagiso Rakosa, Patrick Shai, Winnie Modise and more), is a rollicking adventure of a grandmother and granddaughter. The inspiring Healers (directed by Thomas Barry) recognizes the tenacity of people committed to the upliftment of their community. Inside Story (directed by Rolie Nikiwe) is an underdog story with an important message. Legends of the Casbah: Indian Rebels of the 1950s (directed by Riason Naidoo and Damon Heatlie) illustrates a Durban from a bygone era.
Man on Ground (directed by Akin Omotoso and starring Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Fana Mokoena) probes the effects of xenophobia, and Me, You, Mankosi (directed by Linda Hughes) looks at survival in rural South Africa. One Last Look (directed by Philip Roberts) will delight fans of horror film. Roadmap to Apartheid (directed by Eron Davidson and Ana Nogueira) compares Apartheid South Africa to Israel-Palestine now, while Rockstardom (directed by Michael Cross) profiles the life of musician Brendon Shields. Sleeper’s Wake (directed by Barry Berk) is a dark tale of grief and seduction. Snare (directed by Diony Kempen), grippingly narrativises the rhino poaching epidemic. Taste of Rain (directed by Richard Pakleppa) watches the testing of relationships in the Namibian desert, and Uhlanga – The Mark (directed by Ndaba ka Ngwane) takes a personal look at a boy’s life in the shadow of witchcraft rumours. Umbilical Cords (directed by Sarah Ping Nie Jones) tries to understand mother-daughter relationships and cultural difference, and Zama Zama (directed by Vickus Strijdom, starring Lindani Nkosi and Presley Chweneyagae) is a thrilling story of brotherhood and illegal mining.
The programme is rich with inspiring work from the wider continent, including many films that have excelled internationally and will see their South African debuts at DIFF, such as the Rwandan Grey Matter (directed by Kivu Ruhorahoza), which won two big awards at Tribeca. Senegalese director Moussa Touré’s The Pirogue comes to us straight from the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes and the ghostly Senegalese Tey was nominated for the Golden Bear in Berlin. Also in the programme is Leila Kilani’s On the Edge from Morrocco, and the Eyptian Asmaa (directed by Amr Salama), and Nairobi Half Life (directed by Tosh Gitonga) from Kenya, which will have its world premiere at DIFF.
This year’s programme showcases the myriad perspectives that colour the cultural landscape of contemporary Europe and, and diverse ways in which these stories are being told on film. With support from organisations and partnerships such as EUNIC, World Documentary Exchange and Festival Scope, audiences can expect a feast of top class European films including Finnish Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre, winner of the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes 2011; Michael Glawogger’s Whore’s Glory from Austria, Mads Brügger’s The Ambassador from Denmark; the Portuguese Tabu (winner of the FIPRESCI prize and Golden Bear Nominee in Berlin); the new film from German director of Tuvalu, Veit Helmer, Baikonur; and Stella Days, the Irish film starring Martin Sheen.
Focus on French Film
A special French Focus at DIFF 2012 brings a rich offering from the country widely regarded as "the birthplace of cinema", including films such as The Lady , a powerful biopic on Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, (directed by Luc Besson), On Air (directed by Pierre Pinaud), The Rest of The World (directed by Damien Odoul), 38 Witnesses (directed by Lucas Belvaux), Captive (directed by Brillante Mendoza), Outside Satan (directed by Bruno Dumont), 2 Days in New York (directed by Julie Delpy), The Kid with a Bike (directed by Dardenne Brothers) - winner of the Cannes Grand Jury Prize 2011 – amongst many others. DIFF is also proud to present this year’s winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or, Michael Haneke’s Love (Amour).
There are also some important industry initiatives with French partners, intended to stimulate the growth of cinema in Africa, boosted by the French South Africa Season 2012 & 2013, a two year exchange between the respective countries. The annual Canal France International (CFI) conference will host a dozen African Broadcasters at DIFF. They will also offer a pre-sale prize to a promising African Project in Durban FilmMart. Arte France will present a 6,000 euro award to a DFM project. Coordinated by Festival 3 Continents of Nantes, the Produire au Sud (PAS) Script Studio is a specialist Script Development Workshop for six African filmmakers with feature films in development. The oversight body for film in France, Centre National du Cinéma et de l'Image Animée (CNC), and its South African counterpart, National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), will engage in meetings with producers to explore coproduction opportunities between the two countries. Details will also be announced about the new World Cinema Support Film Fund to which African filmmakers may apply.
Brilliant filmic gems from across the globe include the winners of many major awards. Beasts of the Southern Wild (directed by Benh Zeitlin) from the United States was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Fipresci Award at Cannes in 2012; Russian Faust (directed by Aleksandr Sokurov) won the Golden Lion at Venice last year; the Iranian Goodbye (directed by Mohammad Rasoulof) won Best Director in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section in 2011; and the British Tyrannosaur (directed by Paddy Considine) won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance last year. The documentary section offers Planet of Snail (directed by Seung-jun Yi) which won Best Feature Documentary at IDFA, the Iranian This is Not a Film (directed by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb), and two films by Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame), Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, and Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna is set in India and stars Riz Ahmed and Freida Pinto. The Loneliest Planet stars Hani Furstenberg and Gael Garcia Bernal and the Australian The Hunter, starring Willem Dafoe, has won multiple awards. A Simple Life from Hong King has won numerous awards internationally and was nominated for the Venice Golden Lion. The Turkish Once Upon a Time in Anatolia won the Grand Jury prize in Cannes last year.
Five new films highlight the remarkable substance of modern Japanese cinema: Cut (directed by Amir Naderi), Takashi Miike’s new Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai which will be screened in 3D, I Wish (directed by Hirokazu Koreeda), Our Homeland (directed by Yong-hi Yang) and Scabbard Samurai (directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto).
DIFF’s Eco-Lens section shines a light on ecological and environmental issues. Consumer patterns and the impact of corporatized food production come under the microscope in films such as Bitter Seeds (directed by Micha X. Peled), LoveMEATender (directed by Manu Coeman), Semisweet: Life in Chocolate (directed by Michael Allcock), Now, Forager (directed by Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin) and Last Winter (directed by John Shank), while the value of Southern Africa’s distinctive fauna are scrutinised in All the President’s Elephants (directed by Richard Slater-Jones), Dragon’s Feast 3D (directed by Craig and Damon Foster) and Snare (directed by Diony Kempen). Environmental issues also strike a personal chord in the moving Valley of Saints (directed by Musa Syeed).
Wavescape Surf Film Festival
For the eighth year, DIFF partners with Wavescape to bring you a feast of surfing cinema and shark stories such as The Sea My Soul, Year Zero, The Africa Project, Surfing & Sharks, Rebel Sessions, Minds In The Water, and the great snowboarding movie Art of Flight. Wavescape opens with a free outdoor screening at the Bay of Plenty Lawns on Sunday 22 July, before locating at Ster-Kinekor Musgrave Monday 23 July to Friday 27 July, with special events at Wave House, Gateway Theatre of Shopping, on 21 July and 27 July.
The 5th Talent Campus Durban will bring together the creativity of 50 selected filmmakers from 18 different countries in Africa, chosen from over 250 submissions, who will take part in a series of masterclasses, workshops and industry networking opportunities during the Durban International Film Festival. Supported by German Embassy, Goethe-Institut and KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Talent Campus Durban, a cooperation with Berlinale’s Talent Campus, entices filmmakers to enhance skills, develop collaborations and interface with the dynamic future of the film industry in Africa, and the world. The programme includes Doc Station for documentarians and Talent Press for film journalists and reviewers.
Durban Film Mart
Now in its 3rd year, the Durban Film Mart, a partnership project with Durban Film office, and supported by the City of Durban, is a film finance and co-production market presented in three strands – Finance Forum, Master Classes and the Africa in Focus seminars. 23 selected African projects (11 fiction features and 12 documentaries) will have an opportunity to hold one-on-one meetings with potential financiers, co-producers, and distributors in the Finance Forum. The documentary projects will also have an opportunity to pitch their projects to a panel of international commissioning editors in DOC Circle, a structured pitching forum co-ordinated in association with the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA). The fiction feature programme is coordinated in association with Rotterdam International Film Festival’s CineMart. The DFM masterclass programme is open to registered delegates only. See www.durbanfilmmart.com for further details.
Principal screening venues of DIFF 2012 are Suncoast Cinecentre, Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau–Gateway, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu; and the Blue Waters Hotel. Other venues include the Bay of Plenty Lawns, the Upstairs at Spiga d’Oro, the Wave House at Gateway, and the Luthuli Museum on the North Coast, which will have a special programme of screenings.
Tickets should be acquired through the respective venues and prices range from R25 to R35 (R50 for 3D screenings), except at Luthuli Museum, Blue Waters, Ekhaya and Bay of Plenty lawns, which are free of charge. The Short Film programme at Upstairs at Spiga d’Oro costs R20. Multiple and block bookings can be done through GoingPlaces on 083 250 2690, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.shop.goingplacessa.com.
Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, and other public information outlets. Full festival details can also be found on www.durbanfilmfest.co.za or by calling 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1816.
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) the Durban International Film Festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, HIVOS, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, The French Season in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and a range of other valued partners.